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How to Draw with Ink

Put your ballpoint pen to shame with these tips.


  • Step 1: Select pens Select a pen appropriate to your art. Among the choices are dip pens, markers, and technical pens.
  • Step 2: Choose the right ink Choose an ink type. India inks are typically shades of black, and can be waterproof or not. Colored inks tend to fade over time. Use non-waterproof with most pens and nibs for art covered by glass, letter writing, and calligraphy. Use waterproof ink with dip pens, quill, brush, and ruling pens.
  • Step 3: Choose a surface Choose an inking surface. Absorbent paper with a polished finish provides an ideal surface for pen-and-ink. Other options include art board, mylar, watercolor paper, and drawing paper.
  • Step 4: Test the flow Test the ink flow on a scrap piece of paper. To increase the flow, wiggle the nib, draw the nib through a drop of ink, or carefully draw the nib across a damp paper towel.
  • TIP: Wipe the nib often when using fast drying inks to increase the flow.
  • Step 5: Vary line thickness Make your images visually interesting by varying the thickness of your lines. This can be accomplished by using pens ranging from zero-point-three millimeters to one millimeter.
  • Step 6: Create shades Develop different shading techniques, including overlapping and cross-hatching, which is drawing overlapping lines at angles to each other.
  • Step 7: Practice styles Practice many techniques with many pens and tools to develop your own personal style.
  • FACT: The Chinese ink brush was invented in the third century B.C.E., about the same time as paper.

You Will Need

  • Ink
  • An inking surface
  • Pens
  • A paper towel

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